KURT MASUR AND EDUCATION A LIFELONG PASSION
Education is suddenly making headlines, but for Maestro Kurt Masur, education has been a lifelong passion; one that he has exercised vigorously throughout his conducting career. Having witnessed the long, painful rebuilding of Germany's musical culture, Masur is deeply committed to strengthening musical traditions at every level of society. In the ten years since coming to the New York Philharmonic, Masur has broadened the Orchestra's reach through the introduction of numerous educational initiatives -- some for traditional classroom settings, others for the general public.
The New York Philharmonic now offers numerous programs, designed for different educational settings, from inner-city schools that have no music resources, to the city's three major conservatories, the training ground for the next generation of professional musicians. According to the Glenn Dicterow, the New York Philharmonic's concertmaster, "the Maestro has his hand into every educational corner. He does not have to do it, but he divides his time equally between the three major conservatories, conducting the student orchestras in concerts and rehearsals and working one-on-one with young conductors."
"This is a very serious part of Maestro Masur's persona," says Joseph Polisi, president of the Juilliard School, where Masur presides over annual conducting workshops. "He very much feels that he is giving something to the future. He doesn't just fly in and out; he really spends time."
When Maestro Masur is conducting a public performance with any of the conservatories' orchestras, he schedules five or six rehearsals, each lasting three hours. When he is running a score-reading session, he may spend two or three hours with the students. Maestro Masur's artistic integrity, discipline and intensity of purpose he brings to every encounter shows students what the ultimate goals of their professional life should be.
Kurt Masur has developed the New York Philharmonic's conservatory collaborations program as a centerpiece of his tenure with the New York Philharmonic. The program supports the professional studies of students at the Julliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music. In addition to leading each school's orchestra in a reading rehearsal of orchestral repertoire each season, Mr. Masur conducts one of the three conservatory orchestras in a public concert each year, on a rotating basis. In February 2001, Maestro Masur conducted the Manhattan School of Music Orchestra in a concert of Mendelssohn and Shostakovich. His next public concert will be with the Juilliard Orchestras in February 2002.
Mr. Masur and distinguished guest artists also host a series of Conductor's Tables, designed to provide student conductors of the three conservatories the opportunity to meet and learn from masters of the craft. Forums are also held for composition students from the conservatories featuring composers such as Christopher Rouse, John Adams, Bright Sheng, Stephen Paulus, and Hans Werner Henze.
Education is important to Maestro Masur not only at home in New York. This past summer he gave a one week conducting seminar for young conductors in Sao Paulo Brazil. During the New York Philharmonic's tour to South America in June 2001, the Maestro led a conducting master class at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the New York Philharmonic's residency in Braunschweig, Germany in September 2001, Maestro Masur conducted the Niederschlesische Youth Orchestra in Gershwin's Suite from Porgy and Bess.